As sure as night follows day, Anthony Daly was going to wring a response from his players after the Waterford result. And as sure as day follows night, Tipperary were going to be derailed somewhat after two aborted attempts to play their match with Kilkenny.
That was one they had devoted all their early-season energies to. When it didn’t happen, Parnell Park was never going to have the same hold on them.
Still, their laissez-faire attitude to the day should not dilute the fact that this was by far Dublin’s most complete performance since Daly’s arrival. They’ve set a pretty high standard for themselves now.
In every facet of the game, in every area of the field, they were dominant. Daly had asked midweek for a renewal of commitment and courage and he got it in spades. The quality of their blocking stood out.
Niall Corcoran and Oisin Gough were imperious in the corners of defence, Stephen Hiney was lord and master of all he surveyed at centre-back, where Ronan Fallon was a late defection with a stomach bug. John McCaffrey was always the busiest midfielder, while all Dublin’s half-forwards made contributions in different ways — Liam Rushe‘s sublime fielding, Peter Kelly‘s pace, Shane Durkin‘s assists.
Alan McCrabbe‘s detail to roam from corner-forward paid handsome dividends but it’s the accuracy of his dead-ball striking that is perhaps the most important piece of artillery in Dublin’s arsenal. In Walsh Park last week, his season looked to be over with a suspected broken leg. He contributed 10 points here. Some difference.
Daly’s thoughts as Kelly’s shot shook the net behind Gary Maguire?
“It’s going to be hard enough to beat them by a point without giving them a goal start. But our fellas really showed great attitude. They didn’t say ‘ah here we go again’.”
In that respect there were two periods critical to Dublin’s victory. From that goal down they dominated the next 10 minutes and scored six unanswered points, half-back Maurice O’Brien‘s effort from near the sideline being the most memorable after he had initially been blocked.
Tipperary eventually got some traction but it wasn’t sustained. Padraic Maher was able to hoover up a lot of ball in his free role and Kelly looked sharp. Eventually they stumbled into a lead that they really didn’t deserve, 1-6 to 0-8, on 27 minutes, courtesy of Noel McGrath‘s point that Maguire just failed to reach.
That was the cue for Dublin to surge again. A wonderful Rushe catch teed up a McCaffrey delivery which David O’Callaghan got a touch to in the Tipperary square for a 28th-minute goal.
They kicked on from there and pressurised Tipperary hard. Peter Kelly was denied a second Dublin goal by the post before Durkin’s second point, made by a Kelly block and a pinpoint cross-field pass by McCrabbe, one of the moves of the game.
Dublin took a 1-12 to 1-7 lead in at the break and built steadily after that, always keeping Tipp at arm’s length. By the end of the third quarter they were secure.
“You wouldn’t have expected a scoreline like this,” conceded Daly. “We’ll take it but we won’t be getting carried out with it either. We said on Tuesday night we know we’re not that bad, so we had to face the reality that, at this level, if you stand off against any of these teams you will be destroyed and that’s what we did last week. We were destroyed.
“Today we decided to face out to the oul ball: ‘if you miss it, you miss it but go out to the bloody thing anyway and have the moral courage to go for it’. That was what Tuesday was about.”
The victory restores any credibility issue that may have lingered about Dublin’s journey over the last 12 months.
“People were saying we had a half-decent season last year and the way we let ourselves be beaten last season was just so disappointing,” Daly acknowledged.
For Tipperary, the half-forward line is once again in problematic phase. They were cleaned out across the board, with Seamus Hennessy, Seamus Callanan and Hugh Maloney all bidding adieu to the action before the end.
It took them over 50 minutes to emerge from their dressing-room and when they did Sheedy didn’t seek to make excuses for the on/off nature of their league campaign over the previous eight days, bemoaning only a dearth of game time.
“They out-worked us, out-muscled us, won every battle and won every line. They were deserving winners,” he said. “We could have done with more game time. No matter how much you do at home it doesn’t add up to enough when you come out to competitive action. But there’s no excuses — we got the perfect start but throughout the field Dublin wanted it more.”
Scorers — Dublin: A McCrabbe 0-10 (0-8f, 0-1 sl), D O’Callaghan 1-1, P Kelly, S Durkin 0-2 each, K Flynn, D Treacy, L Rushe, J McCaffrey, M O’Brien, S Lambert 0-1 each. Tipperary: E Kelly 1-5 (1-0 pen, 0-3f, 0-1 ’65), S Callanan 0-2, D Fanning, S Hennessy, N McGrath, L Corbett, B Dunne 0-1 each.
Dublin — G Maguire; N Corcoran, T Brady, O Gough; J Boland, S Hiney, M O’Brien; J McCaffrey, S Lambert; P Kelly, L Rushe, S Durkin; D O’Callaghan, D Treacy, A McCrabbe. Subs: J Kelly for Lambert (24), K Flynn for J Kelly (53), P Ryan for O’Callaghan (67), M Carton for O’Brien (73).
Tipperary — D Gleeson; C O’Brien, P Curran, P Maher; B Maher, C O’Mahony, S Maher; B Dunne, G Ryan; S Hennessy, S Callanan, H Maloney; E Kelly, L Corbett, N McGrath. Subs: D Fanning for Ryan (41), M Webster for Maloney (49), P Kelly for Hennessy (54), M Cahill for O’Brien (57), J Brennan for Callanan (64).
Monday, 1st March 2010